Pro Bono News

Barred From Affordable Housing

Sunday, May 13, 2018

Barred From Affordable Housing

"Dana Monroe is the primary caretaker for her uncle, who is disabled. Several years ago, her uncle’s health worsened and doctors decided to amputate one of his legs. Her uncle’s bedroom, however, was not on the ground floor.

“At that time, he had to go up and down steps,” Monroe said. “His credit is awesome, but because I’m his caregiver, finding somewhere for him to live was hard. I had to find a private owner, so it was an older house.”

The family’s housing options were limited, because Monroe was convicted of a drug-related felony in 2007.

“I’ve had to fight for housing,” Monroe said. “Since I came home in 2009 — I had one child at the time — I haven’t been able to get any housing assistance, or any government assistance.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development always denies federal housing assistance to two narrow groups: people who have previously manufactured methamphetamine in assisted housing and people on a lifetime sex offenders list. In addition, HUD allows housing providers to exclude applicants who have been convicted of drug-related, violent, or other crimes that might threaten resident welfare — within a recommended look-back period of five years.

One national study of 261 public housing authorities found that roughly half either did not define a look-back period or considered records that were more than five years old.

For the past four years, Monroe has rented from a friend of the family, who is now hoping to sell his property. This has pushed Monroe back into the private housing application process..."

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